Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Buzz Light

Gene mutated male mosquitos identifiable by fluorescence limit the population

03 July 2022

Buzz Light

The unwelcome buzzing of a mosquito in a dark bedroom is enough to make anyone wish the pesky bugs glowed in the dark and could be easily spotted. An experiment with Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, carriers of viruses including dengue, Zika, and chikungunya, introduced male mosquitoes genetically modified to produce a fluorescent glow to populations in large outdoor cages. Modified males also carried a key mutation that caused their offspring to die. The larvae from these males (pictured) were easily identified under a fluorescence microscope, helping to monitor the efficiency of the approach and illustrate that the modified genes weren’t persisting in the population longer than a single generation. Addition of the modified males caused the elimination of the test populations within 10–15 weeks, suggesting that this approach could reduce Aedes aegypti numbers in the wild, and keep various viruses under control.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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